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Online Colleges Near San Diego
san diego online college

This post continues our series of the best online college by state. We’ve examined all online colleges near San Diego, California, and showcased the top schools. Our methodology is shown below. If you’re considering pursuing an online degree at a San Diego school, we’re here to help.

Accredited Online Colleges in San Diego

San Diego, California, is home to gorgeous skies, scenic communities, and a beautiful coastline. It is also known for its scientific innovations and strong educational influence. The city is the second largest in California. And it ranks eighth in population across the entire United States. 

This world-class city rests along the Mexican border. And it features many must-see attractions. These include Balboa Park, Belmont Park, the Museum of Contemporary Art, SeaWorld, and the very famous San Diego Zoo.

There are a large number of San Diego colleges and universities. Plus, there are many San Diego trade schools. And there are plenty of schools that offer online courses for credit. This gives students a fantastic amount of flexibility. Our list features online schools within 50 miles of San Diego, California.

San Diego Online Colleges
San Diego, California

Best Colleges in San Diego California Online

San Diego Christian College$26,300OPEN356
University of California – San Diego$14,90624886
National University$13,320OPEN226
California Miramar University$9,99422306
University of San Diego$54,55453837
Point Loma Nazarene University$41,10082767
Thomas Jefferson School of Law$24,300N/AN/A7
Columbia College – San Diego$8,496OPEN437
Alliant International University$13,680N/AN/A8
San Diego State University$8,17439788
San Diego Mesa College$1,114OPEN348
California State University – San Marcos$7,73395579

Methodology for the Best Accredited Online Colleges in San Diego California

San Diego Online Colleges
San Diego, California

This ranking was created to find the top schools offering online degrees in San Diego. The data collected below was taken from NCES College Navigator. The scores are based on admission rates, graduation rates, and in-state undergraduate tuition per academic year. Please note that out-of-state and graduate students may have different costs. The schools are listed in descending order, with our number one pick at the bottom. 

In the event of a tie, the college with the lowest tuition price was awarded higher placement on our list. The methodology used is listed below:

Graduate Tuition/Fees

Less than $10,000/year – 3 Points

$10,001-$20,000/year – 2 Points

More than $20,000/year – 1 Point

Applicants Admitted

Less than 25% – 1 Point

25% to 50% – 2 Points

More than 50% – 3 Points

Graduation Rate

50% or Greater – 3 Points

25%-49% – 2 Points

Less than 25% – 1 Point

Top 12 Best Online Colleges Near San Diego

San Diego Online Colleges
San Diego Gaslamp Quarter

12. San Diego Christian College

Santee, California

San Diego Christian College is a non-profit private college in Spring Valley. It is located in the suburbs, just 12 miles from downtown San Diego. San Diego Christian College is a small school serving just over 150 students each year. The school offers a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. And several of the programs can be completed online. The online bachelor’s degrees include:

  • Christian Ministries
  • Psychology
  • Communication
  • Human Development
  • Leadership
  • Business Management

The online master’s degrees at SDCC include an MS in Leadership and an MA in Teaching. Students can further customize their Leadership Masters with four specializations. These online master’s degree programs include:

  • Education
  • Counseling
  • Sports Administration
  • Organizational Leadership

Courses are asynchronous, so you can study at your own pace. They are delivered via Populi, the school’s online learning platform. Class sizes are small, and online students receive individual support from their instructors. Students can transfer in up to 90 credits of previous coursework. And they can apply up to 15 credit hours for prior work and leadership experience. The school also accepts Joint Service Transcript credits for previous military experience. New classes for the online programs start every eight weeks.


Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Points: 6

11. University of California – San Diego

La Jolla, California

The University of California, San Diego, is a public land-grant research university. It is located just 14 miles from the city. And it serves a student population of 42,000 across six schools. The college is known as one of the top science schools in the US. And it has been recognized as one of the top fifteen research universities worldwide.

The school features over 70 majors. But, like all UC schools, fully online degrees are banned. However, students can still take at least one online course per term, depending on their area of study. The school features hundreds of online classes through UC Online. So there is still a lot of flexibility for students to attend remotely. 

UC San Diego Extended Studies also features many online programs. These are designed to support lifetime learning for all individuals. Students can choose from over 4700 courses and a vast range of certificate programs. For example, adult learners can pursue certifications and classes in areas like:

  • Arts & Humanities
  • Business & Leadership
  • Corporate Education & Custom Training
  • Data Analysis & Mathematics
  • Digital Arts
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Healthcare
  • Languages and English Learning
  • Law
  • Occupational Safety & Health
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Technology
  • Writing


Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Points: 6

10. National University

La Jolla, California

School Profile

National University is a private non-profit college just north of San Diego. The school is headquartered in La Jolla. And it serves thousands of students across 28 campuses. It is one of the largest private non-profit universities in the state. And it features over 190 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Most of these are career-focused and can be completed online. Some of the most popular undergraduate online degree programs at National University include:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Digital Media Design
  • Accounting
  • Computer Science
  • Sport Psychology
  • Paralegal Studies
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Public Health
  • Organizational Leadership

Some of the online master’s degrees offered at National include:

  • Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Homeland Security
  • Marketing
  • Data Science
  • Human Resource Management
  • English
  • Health Informatics

National also offers a wide range of online doctoral degrees and graduate certificates. The online classroom is open 24/7 and utilizes the latest technology. Online students have access to interactive tools, assignments, lectures, and exams. And although most classes are asynchronous, there is a sense of community. 

National University San Diego has top-notch resources for its online students. Some of these include academic coaching, tutoring, and career services. Additionally, the school offers federal financial aid, scholarships, grants, and military discounts. Consult with the school’s financial aid office for more information.


Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Points: 6

9. California Miramar University

San Diego, California

California Miramar University is a private for-profit college established in 2005. CMU is a small school with a student population of just over 200. But it features low tuition rates and an impressive student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1. This ensures that each student gets personalized attention from their instructors. Admissions is selective. And only around 22 percent of students are accepted each year. 

CMU’s online courses are delivered through the Moodle online learning management platform. Classes are asynchronous. Online students can log in and complete their assignments when it is most convenient. Hybrid students attend campus classes once a week. This option is ideal for those who need both flexibility and some in-person connection. There are five hybrid/online degree programs to choose from:

  • Associate of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Tuition
  • Master of Business Administration Tuition
  • Master of Science in Computer Information Systems Tuition
  • Doctor of Business Administration Tuition

Each online program features several areas of concentration. For example, the bachelor’s degree in business has six additional specializations. They include:

  • Finance
  • Sports Management
  • International Business
  • Marketing
  • Hospitality Management
  • Information Technology

California Miramar University offers a range of support services. Students in the online programs have 24-hour access to the online library. And research assistance is available to all students. And federal financial aid is available to those who qualify. Consult with the school’s financial aid office for more information.


Accreditation: Distance Education Accrediting Commission

Points: 6

San Diego Online Colleges
Corona Bridge San Diego California

8. University of San Diego

San Diego, California

The University of San Diego is a four-year Catholic college chartered in 1949. The school is consistently ranked as having one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation. It is close to the beaches, mountains, and downtown. And it’s pedestrian-friendly. It has also received a Carnegie classification of “Doctoral University: High Research Activity.” It serves over 8,000 students. USD features over 80 undergraduate and graduate programs. 

USD does not feature bachelor’s online degrees. However, the school has a diverse selection of online Master’s degrees. Some of the most popular online University of San Diego degrees include:

  • Information Technology Leadership
  • Engineering Management and Leadership
  • Non-profit Leadership & Management
  • Engineering for Sustainability and Health 
  • Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship
  • Applied Data Science
  • Health Care Informatics
  • Applied Artificial Intelligence
  • Cyber Security Operations and Leadership
  • Law Enforcement & Public Safety Leadership
  • Cyber Security Engineering

Students take one course at a time. And each course lasts seven weeks. Students can expect to spend 15-20 hours on coursework each week. The online programs feature a strong support structure to help students succeed. International students are welcome at the University of San Diego.


Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Points: 7

7. Point Loma Nazarene University

San Diego, California

Point Loma Nazarene University is a four-year non-profit private college in San Diego. It was established by a group of women from the Church of Nazarene with assistance from Phineas F. Bresee. The original school was founded in 1902 as a simple Bible college. Today, this Christian liberal arts university serves over 4,000 students. Point Loma Nazarene University also features an impressive student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. PLNU has been ranked among the Top 20 Regional Universities in the West by US News and World Report. 

Point Loma Nazarene University students can choose from more than 60 areas of study. And there are several online degree programs available. The undergraduate programs feature an easy-to-use format. And classes start every eight weeks. The online bachelor’s degrees include:

  • Creative Digital Media 
  • Child Development
  • Criminal Justice
  • Organizational Leadership 
  • Public Administration
  • Strategic Communication
  • Business Administration
  • Integrated Studies with an Emphasis in Education
  • RN to BSN

The online master’s degrees at Point Loma Nazarene University include:

  • Organizational Leadership 
  • Teaching
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Educational Administration
  • Higher Education
  • School Counseling
  • Special Education
  • Kinesiology

Point Loma Nazarene University also offers three online doctoral degrees and several certificate programs. The college offers scholarships, grants, loans, and more. And 92% of students receive some form of aid. PLNU also offers military programs and services.


Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Points: 7

6. Thomas Jefferson School of Law

San Diego, California

Thomas Jefferson School of Law is a private, non-profit college established in 1969. In 2011 TJSL opened a new eight-story, 305,000-square-foot campus. The building complies with LEED’s Green Building Gold Certification requirements. The new school building contains classrooms, offices, and a two-story law library. It features over a million volumes, collaborative work areas, and even a legal clinic. The school is located in the East Village district of downtown San Diego. It’s an outstanding facility. And the education students receive at the school is of the highest quality.

TJSL offers three on-campus programs and one online program. The online program is a Juris Doctor degree. It is limited to California residents. Students can complete the program part-time in four years or full-time in three. Classes are delivered asynchronously. So you can complete your studies on your own schedule. There are also synchronous weekly live Zoom sessions. These can help students who would like to reinforce certain concepts.

Online students also have the option of completing some of their classes on campus. And they enjoy all the resources that residential students have. The online JD is ideal for busy working professionals. Financial aid is available. 

It should be noted that as a graduate school, admission and graduation rates are not published. Therefore the ranking may be different if it were compared to other graduate schools. 


Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Points: 7

5. Columbia College – San Diego

San Diego, California

Columbia College – San Diego is a branch of Columbia College of Missouri. It is one of 30 such campuses across the country. This non-profit private college has been named one of the best online schools in the US. And it has been ranked as a top school for veteran and military education. 

Columbia College – San Diego offers over 60 online programs. These include associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Plus, there are a variety of certificate programs. Classes are eight weeks long, with six start dates per year. Some of the online bachelor’s degrees include:

  • Finance 
  • Accounting 
  • Business 
  • Human Resource Management 
  • Health Care Management 
  • International Business 
  • Organizational Leadership 
  • Real Estate Management 
  • Sports Management 
  • Project Management 

The college offers ten online master’s degrees as well. These include:

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Business Analytics 
  • Business Administration 
  • Teaching
  • Educational Leadership
  • Educational Leadership with Instructional Coach Certification Emphasis
  • Educational Leadership with Instructional Leadership Certification Emphasis
  • Educational Leadership with School Leader (K-12) Certification Emphasis
  • Criminal Justice Administration 

This affordable online college serves both civilians and military personnel. However, military members get special tuition discounts. Plus, they pay no no fees or book costs. Military spouses and dependents are eligible too. 


Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Points: 7

San Diego Online Colleges
Balboa Park, San Diego

4. Alliant International University

San Diego, California

Alliant International University is a four-year for-profit college in Northeast San Diego. It is one of the private colleges in San Diego. The campus is between the beaches and mountains on the hillside of Scripps Ranch. The school was originally a law school founded in 1909. Today, it serves nearly 3,600 students and is one of six Alliant campuses. Alliant International University is a B-Corp. This means it meets “rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.”

Alliant’s mission is to train students for professional careers of service and leadership. And the programs are designed on a model of theory paired with practice. The school features a range of degree programs both on campus and online. The online programs are divided into four graduate areas of study:

  • Education
  • Psychology
  • Business and Management
  • Forensic Behavioral Science

Within each of these areas, there are multiple degree programs and certificates. Each topic features at least one master’s program and one doctoral program. Plus, there are various certifications and credentials to choose from. For example, the Forensic Behavioral Science programs include:

  • MS in Forensic Behavioral Science
  • Ph.D. in Psychology, Public Policy, and Law
  • Forensic Victimology Certificate 
  • Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies Certificate 
  • Fundamentals of Police Psychology Certificate 
  • Forensic Linguistics Certificate 

The online coursework is convenient and flexible. So it’s ideal for busy working professionals. However, Alliant also offers plenty of opportunities for real-world, hands-on experiences. Students can participate in community projects and internships to help them reach their goals. 


Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Points: 8

3. San Diego State University

San Diego, California

San Diego State University is a four-year public research university. This non-profit school was founded in 1897. And it receives the most federal research support of any school in the CSU system. San Diego State is a large school with a student population of over 37,000. The school is known for academic excellence, diversity, and inclusion. It is also a Hispanic-serving institution and is recognized for its support of LGBTQIA+ students.

Online programs at San Diego State University are offered through the Global Campus. There are eight online bachelor’s degrees. They include:

  • Business Administration
  • Communication
  • Criminal Justice
  • Economics
  • Public Health
  • Child Development
  • Civil Engineering

San Diego State University also features a range of master’s degrees and hybrid online programs. They include:

  • Educational Leadership/OPASC Combo Program
  • Teacher Leadership
  • MPH in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science
  • MPH in Epidemiology
  • Public Administration
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Computer Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Hospitality and Tourism Management 
  • Meeting and Event Management 
  • Screenwriting

All online courses are taught by industry experts and SDSU faculty. In addition to online degrees, there are several other options for online learning. For example, students can pursue certificates to help them advance in their careers. There are also career training online programs and non-credit enrichment and career building courses with open enrollment. 


Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Points: 8

2. San Diego Mesa College

San Diego, California

San Diego Mesa College is a public community college in San Diego. It is one of the largest and most successful community colleges in San Diego. And it’s considered one of the best schools in San Diego. The college takes great pride in offering programs with high academic standards. Mesa College also offers terrific student services. And the school takes a personal approach to helping each student achieve their goals. SDMC offers primarily Associate Degrees. However, the school does offer one Bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management. This classifies it as a four-year institution, according to NCES. 

Mesa College does not feature 100% online degrees. Instead, students can take a wide variety of their courses online. Courses are accessed through the San Diego Community College District. SDCCD serves students at City, Mesa, and Miramar Colleges. Courses are delivered through Canvas, the school’s online learning management system. And they are developed by instructors from all three colleges. Some are asynchronous. Others require live attendance online. There are also several hybrid options. 

If you live outside of California, you will need to check before enrolling in SDMC online courses. Students can only enroll in online classes with the approval of their home state. 

Individuals can also enroll in hundreds of free classes. These are offered through the College of Continuing Education. Many of the classes are self-paced and can be accessed online. They have open enrollment, and anyone can participate. Some of the most popular options include:

  • Computerized Accounting
  • Art Appreciation
  • Drawing and Painting
  • Project Management
  • Sewing
  • Web Design

If you’re looking for the best trade schools in San Diego, be sure to check out SDMC.


Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

Points: 8

1. California State University San Marcos

San Marcos, California

California State University San Marcos is located about 35 miles from San Diego. It is part of the California State University System. And it serves around 15,000 students a year. The campus sits on a 304-acre hillside overlooking the city. And the school is conveniently located within a short drive of many recreational opportunities. For example, you could find yourself at a beach, on the Mexican Border, in the mountains, or in the desert. And, of course, you’ll likely pass many interesting things along the way.

CSUSM features over 50 undergraduate and graduate majors. And the school offers several online programs. Students can also earn certificates online. The online degrees include:

  • ADN/RN-BS Nursing
  • BA Criminology and Justice Studies
  • BA Sociology, Accelerated
  • BS Cybersecurity
  • BS Wildfire Science
  • MA Educational Administration
  • MA Reading, Language, and Literacy
  • Master of Public Health
  • MS Cybersecurity

You can also take courses through CSU Fully Online. This program offers courses from all 23 CSU campuses. This allows students to customize an online degree program that meets their needs. CSUSM also offers non-credit professional development opportunities. These are open-enrollment courses, bootcamps, and certification programs. And they are open to everyone. Some of the offerings for an online degree include:

  • Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist
  • Certified Professional Photographer
  • Cisco CCNA Dual Certification Bootcamp
  • Certified Digital Marketing Professional
  • Cybersecurity Bootcamp
  • Freight Broker and Agent Training
  • Graphic Design with Photoshop
  • Ethical Hacking Dual Certification Bootcamp

Tuition: $7,733

Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Points: 9

San Diego Online Colleges
San Diego California Coastline
This concludes our article on the best online San Diego Online Colleges.

OCP Staff

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